Shingles, a painful skin condition, may be prevented if you perform Tai-Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, say researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles. Tai Chi is commonly used in many parts of the world as a low-impact exercise for older people.

You can read about this new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, April issue.

In this new study, researchers found that elderly people who performed Tai Chi enjoyed better immune responses against the shingles-causing virus, compared to people who just received health education.

Shingles affects about one million people in the USA alone – it most commonly affects people over the age of 50.

112 healthy volunteers, aged 59-86, were involved in this study. All participants had had chickenpox. Half of them had three Tai Chi classes each week for 12 weeks, while the other half had health education classes (but no Tai Chi lessons). They all had blood tests before and after their vaccinations.

Six months later, the researchers found that those who had received the Tai Chi lessons had almost twice the immunity levels against shingles, compared to the other group. In fact, the researchers found that the Tai Chi group managed to develop a level of immunity similar to what younger people would have after the vaccination.

“Augmenting Immune Responses to Varicella Zoster Virus in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Tai Chi”
Michael R. Irwin, MD, Richard Olmstead, PhD, Michael N. Oxman, MD
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume 55 Issue 4 Page 511 – April 2007 – doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01109.x
Click here to view ABSTRACT online

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today